Parent Tip – Natural Consequences for Behavior Management
Watch and listen to Ann McKitrick explain natural consequences to behavior for young children and how you can help with their behavior management development.
Consequences to Behavior
I wanted to talk today about logical consequences and what happens when our children do what we’ve asked them not to do, or they do something that is just not going to fly. We know as adults that there are consequences to all of our behaviors. If we stay up too late, then we know that we’re going to be tired the next day. If we drink too much, we know we’re going to feel kind of cruddy the next morning.
We know what it’s like, but our children don’t know what those consequences are. We can start in the first year of life, allowing a child to suffer the natural consequences of their behaviors in a very subtle, gentle, and kind way. An example might be a baby who is sitting in a high chair and has eaten their food. They begin to throw the food off the side and then start learning a lot of things by throwing that food off the side of their high chair.
They’re learning the physics of what happens when you throw something and it hits the floor. They’re also learning how to get a reaction of the people sitting around them. They’re just having fun. They’re using their arms in a new way, and they’ve got these new skills and it’s fun. It’s fine a couple of times, but if you want to nip that in the bud, then when they begin to throw food off the side of the tray, then the meal’s over and take them out. They must be done eating if they’re not eating anymore so they’re throwing their food. That’s an example of a natural consequence that we can begin really early in life.
With older children, there are consequences to the things that they do. If they throw the ball over the fence, not accidentally, but intentionally throw the ball, then the ball’s gone. I remember when our kids were little and they would fight and squabble, they would be given a job to do together and I would always give them washing the windows. I’d give one person the spray and one person the rag so they had to work that out together.
The reason I did that is because they were in there fighting. They were not working together to solve their own problems and by giving them a job where they had to work together and solve their own problems, it was a pretty effective way to get them to stop fighting. They always ended up laughing at the end of that task, up to a certain age.
A tip for using natural consequences is to give a warning first. You don’t want to just spring this on a kid. Give them a couple of warnings. If it happens again, then let the natural consequence happen. It’s a good way to manage behaviors and get kids to do the things that you want them to do without having to rule with an iron fist and always be thinking about how you’re going to get them to do what you want to do. Just let the consequences happen. They will learn on their own because they will think it through and figure it out, eventually. I hope that helps.